GUIDE: 6 of Southwestern University’s traditions explained


Southwestern University was established in 1840 and  is the oldest university in Texas. The liberal arts school hosts about 1,300 undergrads and is the home to many time-honored traditions.

Haileygrace Overfelt, a 2019 alumna of the university, said the school’s traditions are what build bonds between students and keep alumni coming back.

“Traditions are important because they help build who we are,” Overfelt said. “These traditions are why people love Southwestern so much because we are a community. The people that you meet here aren’t people that you are going to forget.”

Here is a list of a few of Southwestern University’s traditions.

Sacrifice to Monstrance

Tradition: “Monstrance for a Grey Horse” is the full name of this statue, commonly referred to as “Monstrance.” Today, students make offerings to Monstrance before finals as a good luck ritual.

Fun fact: The artist, James Acord, spent more than 10 years carving the statue by hand.

Location: A. Frank Smith Jr. Library Center

Friday in The Commons with Miss Ella

Tradition: Miss Ella makes it a point to greet each student who walks into The Commons dining hall with a hug, high five or elbow bump every Friday.

Fun fact: Miss Ella has been working in food services at Southwestern University for about 20 years.

Location: Mabee Commons

Late Night Breakfast

Tradition: During finals week, staff and faculty cook students breakfast for dinner. There is also karaoke at the event.

Fun fact: Southwestern President Edward Burger is often found in the back flipping pancakes.

Location: Mabee Commons

Signing the Cullen Tower

Tradition: Since the early 1900s, Southwestern students have added their names to the historic wall of the Cullen tower. Today, graduating seniors who have made a gift their senior year climb the winding metal staircase to add their names next to fellow alumni.

Fun fact: The oldest signature in the tower dates back to 1912.

Location: Roy and Lillie Cullen Building


Tradition: Alumni are invited back for football, tailgating, music and a barbecue, among other scheduled events.

Fun fact: Southwestern is the first university to host a homecoming in the country. It was held April 21, 1909, in San Gabriel Park.

Location: throughout campus

Walking across the seal

Tradition: Students believe it is bad luck to walk across the seal while still taking classes at the university. When seniors graduate, they often stand on the seal for photos.

Fun fact: Seniors often take graduation photos on the seal after commencement.

Location: Lois Perkins Chapel

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1 comment
  1. Interestingly, every one of those “traditions” are relatively new. None of them were a thing in 1982, the year I graduated. The exception being writing your name in the tower of the Cullen building – which was discouraged as a form of graffiti.

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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